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Omegaphallic's PHB/SCAG/VGTM/XGTE reviews

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  • Omegaphallic's PHB/SCAG/VGTM/XGTE reviews

    Okay let's start with the PHB, which even though it's the biggest, is the shortest and easiest review.

    When I first got the PHB it really got my hopes up for 5e. It's innovative, yet nostologic, simply, let flexible.

    Advantage was a great innovation as was bounded accuracy.

    Most of the subclasses we're flavorful without being restricting. Some favourate Subclasses are the Oath of Ancients, all three Warlock Patrons, Totem Barbarian, Battlemaster, Eldrich Knight, Arcane Trickster, College of Lore.

    All the classes seemed fun to play, but the Ranger felt too situational.

    I loved the really cool fusion between the Great Wheel and World Axis cosmologies, which I call Great Wheel + or the Great Wheel Axis. It even had some cool invocations of it's own, such as the border Elemental Planes leading to the pure elemental planes which in turn lead to the Elemental Chaos. I also like how they dealt with how an outer plane can be intimate and yet functional finite, by making the finite part basically the border material region of the plane with an infinite spiritual level.

    I like the inclusion of a host of Pantheons in the apendix.

    The SCAG was an extercise in wasted potential. The SCAG should have been the FRCG, but was starved of size and resources, which is a shame as it has the strongest setting flavour, a bit with the weakest mechanics, leaving one hungry for more which will never come.

    The writing style is great, especially the first person travel guide feel, which actually is disappointingly missing from VGTM and XGTE sadly even though the names make it feel like they would have.

    I also don't like how the Mulhorandi Pantheon is mentioned several times without giving us Domains and the full Pantheon listed like the Elves, Dwarves, Drow, and Gnomes got their Pantheons listed and with all player needed info granted. A kind of Solution comes later in XGTE.

    Still best fluff and writing of all the books, but it left out some Gods and was too small to reach it's true potential leaving one yearning for what could have been.

    Mechanically we learn why playtesting has been so key to the mechanical success of 5e, many, although not all of the subclasses are too weak, something a public play test would have cured.

    Also a map of all of Faerun would have been nice and seems like it should have been the bare minimum offered, yet it is missing. A major defect.

    Volo's Guide to Monsters tries to be too many things at once. It's MM2, a kind of Setting Guide to Monsters, and a Player's book at the same time, and it tries to be an FR book and a generic book and so doesn't really do any of those well.

    The first chapters are flavorful and fun, but not knowing if it wants to be generic or FR lore makes it a confusing mishmash that can mislead people as to the nature of the FR setting, example the Yaun Ti in FR are NOT created by a hedonistic empire of snake God worshippers, they we're created by the Surrukh, and yet they blend in Dendar from FR, very FR specific, who has never been a God and till now has never been worshipped, only feared.

    The mechanics are mostly great, especially the Aasimar, but the Kenku is almost pure ribbon abilities and Knobolds and Orcs should not have gotten negative modifiers, although the nature of this addition makes it not as bad as previous editions.

    XGTE has the best mechanics, some of the best subclass fluff and flavour, but is impoverished in the area of setting, which given it bears the name of a FR NPC from Waterdeep is misleading and dishonest IMO (this goes for VGTM, which has Volo's presence reduced to posted notes, as an excuse to put his name on the book).

    That beings said between the Spells, Subclasses, and Racial Feats you have the best player opinions on the game.

    And there also awesome subclasses, some of my favourite sunclass in the game period. Divine Soul and Shadow Magic took Sorceror from beibg my least favourite class to favourite class alone. Divine Soul BTW solves the Mulhorandi Pantheon problem by providing an Alternate kind of Priest type then cleric that does not require domains and doesn't suffer from the Clerics AL restrictions.

    One exception on the fluff front is the Hexblade, which has cool mechanics, but the WORST fluff of any subclass in the game, its the only subclass where the fluff felt like an after thought.

    The two biggest weaknesses are the lack of FR lore making using the Xanathar's name extremely misleading, and some horrifying filler that is some of the most shameful ripping off of customers I've ever seen in D&D history and WotC should be embarrassed. Also the reprints expose the PHB +1 rule of AL as the horrible idea for the wrong edition it really is.

    The shared world chapter doubles downs on that horrible rule while adding nore aweful filler.

    Over 16 pages of names, most of which aren't even fantasy names or usable in FR as they are real world names. I could get that on countless free websites of names. 16 fucking pages that could have gone to actual real content.

    When this book is good its great, Chapters 1 and Chapter 3, Chapter 2 is useful and good, but in the wrong book, it should have been in a dedicated book for DMs not a Player's Resource book like XGTE. Most of the rest is worthless filler that WotC should apologize for IMO.

    A lot of the blame for the flaws in these books do NOT go to the creative teams who have so much talent and passion coming out of their ears.

    No it's the same bean counters who decided to cancel the Novel line for FR, a choice I absolutely loath, who decided to grossly understaff the D&D department of WotC may Shar take their souls.

  • #2
    If it's not too much trouble, could you please define the multiple abbreviations at least once? I don't have any idea what products you are reviewing. Thanks.


    [Actual Play] Baltimore: The Kiddie Pool Saga

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    • #3
      It seems like you have thought out a lot... except for what would happen if the things you say should have happened would actually have been done. I.e. you are saying some of the material should have gone in a dedicated book for DMs, like the choice was either they release 1 book now that crams a lot of stuff for everyone together, or they flesh out 2 full books now with one being for players and the other for DMs. The practical application of putting some of the material in a different book, however, would be more along the lines of release 1 shorter book (or book with even more "filler") now because there isn't enough material to flesh out the page count, and release those "belong in a DM book" parts however long from now it takes for them to actually have a full book worth of DM stuff instead of just a couple chapters.

      And that you say WotC should apologize for not causing their player base to rely on outside sources for inspiration and/or examples of names makes you sound like an asshole, completely undercutting any weight there may have been to your argument that such an inclusion is "worthless filler".


      Not so noble anymore.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by figurehead View Post
        If it's not too much trouble, could you please define the multiple abbreviations at least once? I don't have any idea what products you are reviewing. Thanks.
        D&D 5th Edition:

        Player's Handbook (PHB)
        Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (SCAG)
        Volo's Guide to Monsters (VGTM)
        Xanthar's Guide to Everything (XGTE)

        References to previous edition books:

        Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (FRCG, 4th)
        Forgotten Realms (FR, setting)
        Monster Manual 2 or II (MM2, multiple)

        "PHB +1 rule of AL" is a reference to the Adventure League (D&D organized play) rules that state that player characters can only be made with the PHB + one other supplement. I think that's everything that's not D&D specific.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by figurehead View Post
          If it's not too much trouble, could you please define the multiple abbreviations at least once? I don't have any idea what products you are reviewing. Thanks.
          No problem.

          PHB: Player's Handbook
          SCAG: Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
          VGTM: Volo's Guide To Monsters
          XGTE: Xanathar's Guide To Monsters

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          • #6
            Thanks for the clarification and the review


            [Actual Play] Baltimore: The Kiddie Pool Saga

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            • #7
              Speak for yourself, the name lists were my favorite part of the book. And the art has all been killer, smallfolk aside!


              Call me Regina or Lex.

              Female pronouns for me, please.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by atamajakki View Post
                Speak for yourself, the name lists were my favorite part of the book. And the art has all been killer, smallfolk aside!
                You do know there are websites with tons of names for free right. You can also buy books with nothing, but names?

                Seriously the filler was your favourite part? You have figured out that the reason they did that is that not enough of their UA panned out the way they hoped and they were too understaffed to fix them in the time they had left so they did things like the list of names and had Chris Perkins come up with a bunch of mostly useless common magic items right?

                Seriously can you not see why a lot of people like me would be pissed about the filler.

                I mean holy shit the names we're your favourite part, not the cool subclasses that spark the imagination and offer new cool mechanical options, or the racial feats that can add depth to the race your playing, or the cool spells that can create things like magical temples or fortresses or shadow blades or grant the ability to breath fire/lightening/acid/poison/cold like Dragon, or even the DM rules, your favourite part was the names, the thing you can get for free or in any naming book, I mean Garyx wrote a book of names that is edition neutral you could buy, of nothing but names, it didn't have to take up space in the first major player option book they put out.

                I mean I feel like your having me on right, your just fucking with me right, your kidding right?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by figurehead View Post
                  Thanks for the clarification and the review
                  Your welcome, my pleasure.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Omegaphallic View Post
                    You do know there are websites with tons of names for free right. You can also buy books with nothing, but names?
                    The vast majority of name generator sites are garbage, and I’d much rather get a list of specifically setting-appropriate names as part of a D&D product I was going to buy anyway than buy a separate third-party book specifically for names.

                    Originally posted by Omegaphallic View Post
                    Seriously the filler was your favourite part? You have figured out that the reason they did that is that not enough of their UA panned out the way they hoped and they were too understaffed to fix them in the time they had left so they did things like the list of names and had Chris Perkins come up with a bunch of mostly useless common magic items right?
                    Ok, first of all: The Common Magic Items are fucking awesome. They were hands-down my favorite player-facing part of the book. Second, that’s a huge and completely unfounded assumption you’re making about why they were included in the book.

                    Originally posted by Omegaphallic View Post
                    Seriously can you not see why a lot of people like me would be pissed about the filler.
                    Oh, I can see it. It’s the same reason folks get pissed about books like Secrets of the Covenants being mainly fiction with only a small Appendix for character options. Some folks just don’t see value in game content that doesn’t directly interact with the system rules.

                    Originally posted by Omegaphallic View Post
                    I mean holy shit the names we're your favourite part, not the cool subclasses that spark the imagination and offer new cool mechanical options, or the racial feats that can add depth to the race your playing, or the cool spells that can create things like magical temples or fortresses or shadow blades or grant the ability to breath fire/lightening/acid/poison/cold like Dragon, or even the DM rules, your favourite part was the names, the thing you can get for free or in any naming book, I mean Garyx wrote a book of names that is edition neutral you could buy, of nothing but names, it didn't have to take up space in the first major player option book they put out.
                    Eh, the majority of the subclasses were pretty boring and some of them are just a straight-up mess (looking at you, Hexblade). The spells are almost all blatant power creep. Racial Feats were pretty cool. The names will be far more useful to me more often than the majority of the rest of the book, even if there were other parts I personally liked better.

                    Originally posted by Omegaphallic View Post
                    I mean I feel like your having me on right, your just fucking with me right, your kidding right?
                    It’s probably worth noting that Regina doesn’t play 5th Edition. She mostly ports D&D setting material she likes to other systems. But is it really that surprising that different people would have different preferences and prefer different parts of the book than you do?


                    Onyx Path Forum Moderator

                    My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

                    Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Omegaphallic View Post
                      ...first major player option book...
                      I think this single thing may be the root of your entire dissatisfaction with the book. Namely that it is, to quote from WotC's product overview for it, "the first major expansion". 'Expansion' and 'player option book' aren't synonymous... kind of more like a square and rectangle thing. A player option book would be an expansion, but not all expansions are player option books.


                      Not so noble anymore.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                        The vast majority of name generator sites are garbage, and I’d much rather get a list of specifically setting-appropriate names as part of a D&D product I was going to buy anyway than buy a separate third-party book specifically for names.


                        Ok, first of all: The Common Magic Items are fucking awesome. They were hands-down my favorite player-facing part of the book. Second, that’s a huge and completely unfounded assumption you’re making about why they were included in the book.


                        Oh, I can see it. It’s the same reason folks get pissed about books like Secrets of the Covenants being mainly fiction with only a small Appendix for character options. Some folks just don’t see value in game content that doesn’t directly interact with the system rules.


                        Eh, the majority of the subclasses were pretty boring and some of them are just a straight-up mess (looking at you, Hexblade). The spells are almost all blatant power creep. Racial Feats were pretty cool. The names will be far more useful to me more often than the majority of the rest of the book, even if there were other parts I personally liked better.


                        It’s probably worth noting that Regina doesn’t play 5th Edition. She mostly ports D&D setting material she likes to other systems. But is it really that surprising that different people would have different preferences and prefer different parts of the book than you do?
                        Ah that explains that, moving on then.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Omegaphallic View Post

                          You do know there are websites with tons of names for free right. You can also buy books with nothing, but names?

                          Seriously the filler was your favourite part? You have figured out that the reason they did that is that not enough of their UA panned out the way they hoped and they were too understaffed to fix them in the time they had left so they did things like the list of names and had Chris Perkins come up with a bunch of mostly useless common magic items right?

                          Seriously can you not see why a lot of people like me would be pissed about the filler.

                          I mean holy shit the names we're your favourite part, not the cool subclasses that spark the imagination and offer new cool mechanical options, or the racial feats that can add depth to the race your playing, or the cool spells that can create things like magical temples or fortresses or shadow blades or grant the ability to breath fire/lightening/acid/poison/cold like Dragon, or even the DM rules, your favourite part was the names, the thing you can get for free or in any naming book, I mean Garyx wrote a book of names that is edition neutral you could buy, of nothing but names, it didn't have to take up space in the first major player option book they put out.

                          I mean I feel like your having me on right, your just fucking with me right, your kidding right?
                          Do you do this for every girl that disagrees with you, or am I special?

                          I liked the art, the common magic items, and the ideas behind a bunch of the subclasses. It just happens that the name list is my favorite part, and given that I uploaded some of them to Tumblr and they’re currently sitting at over six thousand notes, clearly other people did too.


                          Call me Regina or Lex.

                          Female pronouns for me, please.

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                          • #14
                            Not sure if this is part of the "filler" portion of the book. But my favortie part is the random tables "trail of life" part. How was your childhood, major events, why you ended up with a class, etc, etc. I plan on using it for the next character i roll.

                            I also like the extra class subtypes of course. I am glad to see i'm not the only one not liking the hexblade tho. I really want to roll a pact of blade warlock and i dont want to use the hexblade as a patron.


                            Currently running: VtR - The most serene requiem of Venice
                            Currently playing: Being a dad for a 1year old daughter and a newborn son.
                            Currently planning: Scion 2nd edition

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Maitrecorbo View Post
                              I am glad to see i'm not the only one not liking the hexblade tho. I really want to roll a pact of blade warlock and i dont want to use the hexblade as a patron.
                              Ugh, I get that they wanted to give Blade Warlocks some love, but a Patron was the wrong way to go about giving it. Not only is it a complete flavor fail, it’s also just as easily taken by Tome and Chain Warlocks, who get just as much benefit out of its features, leaving us right back where we started with Blade being the weakest Pact Boon. Only now there’s a Patron that’s the clear best, giving Warlocks of any Boon Medium Armor Proficiency and a turbo-charged Hex that doesn’t use a spell slot and can’t be transferred to another creature after the first one dies.

                              The idea of having a powerful intelligent artifact like Blackrazor as a patron is cool, but they shouldn’t have tried to fix Pact of the Blade with it. Also I feel like the offhand mention that some people think the intelligent force behind Hexblade Pacts is the Raven Queen was only thrown in there because Mearls really wanted a Raven Queen patron and the one that was actually designed to be the Raven Queen Pact in UA didn’t do well enough in the polls to make it into the actual book. And it makes no sense, there’s nothing about the Hexblade that has anything to do with the Raven Queen except maybe the fact that it has a vague connection to the Shadowfell.


                              Onyx Path Forum Moderator

                              My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

                              Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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